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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, January 22, 2016.
About this Poem 

“One day I was startled by a rabbit that moved and stopped, moved and stopped across a gravel driveway. The poem radiated from that spark.”
—Arthur Sze

First Snow

                A rabbit has stopped on the gravel driveway:

                           imbibing the silence,
                           you stare at spruce needles:

                                                  there’s no sound of a leaf blower,
                                                  no sign of a black bear;

                a few weeks ago, a buck scraped his rack
                           against an aspen trunk;
                           a carpenter scribed a plank along a curved stone                                                   wall.                    

                                       You only spot the rabbit’s ears and tail:

                when it moves, you locate it against speckled gravel,
                but when it stops, it blends in again;

                           the world of being is like this gravel:

                                      you think you own a car, a house,
                                      this blue-zigzagged shirt, but you just borrow                                                   these things.                    

                Yesterday, you constructed an aqueduct of dreams
                                      and stood at Gibraltar,

                                                             but you possess nothing.

                Snow melts into a pool of clear water;
                           and, in this stillness,

                                       starlight behind daylight wherever you gaze.

Copyright © 2016 by Arthur Sze. Used with permission of the author.

Copyright © 2016 by Arthur Sze. Used with permission of the author.

Arthur Sze

Arthur Sze

Born in New York City in 1950, Arthur Sze is the author of nine books of poetry, including Compass Rose (Copper Canyon Press, 2014). He served as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 2012 to 2017.

by this poet


Meandering across a field with wild asparagus,
I write with my body the characters for grass,
water, transformation, ache to be one with spring.
Biting into watermelon, spitting black seeds
onto a plate, I watch the eyes of an Armenian
accordion player, and before


   The blue-black mountains are etched
   with ice. I drive south in fading light.
   The lights of my car set out before
   me, and disappear before my very eyes.
   And as I approach thirty, the distances
   are shorter than I guess? The mind
   travels at the speed of light. But for

Here a snail on a wet leaf shivers and dreams of spring.
Here a green iris in December.
Here the topaz light of the sky.
Here one stops hearing a twig break and listens for deer.
Here the art of the ventriloquist.
Here the obsession of a kleptomaniac to steal red